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Treed by chains – Competing on price, hours

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Nonprofit groups that depend on revenues from selling Christmas trees are hurting in the face of competition from big retail chains that offer discount bargains, The Wall Street Journal reported Dec. 19.

For the past decade, chains such as Wal-Mart Stores, Home Depot and Target have stocked their garden centers with Christmas trees to offset a typically slow sales season for plants, the Journal said.

Many supermarket chains also have been selling trees.

“They are a great traffic builder” that also turns a profit, Mike Gettler, vice president of merchandising at Lowe’s in Wilkesboro, N.C., told the Journal.

As a result, nonprofit groups that sell trees must compete with more chains that not only stay open long hours but also undercut their prices.

The Pfafftown Jaycees in Winston-Salem, N.C., for example, has exited the tree-sales business altogether, and instead now stand at the front gate of the Tanglewood Festival of Lights on Friday nights from Thanksgiving through early January – for which they are paid $1,500.

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